MissPres News Roundup 3-16-2015

I know you’re probably exhausted, as I am, from a weekend of revelry in celebration of Pi Day, but alas, it’s time to get down to business.

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Webb School (1913, John Henry, archt.)First, a nice story on WLOX about the 1913 Webb School in Bay St. Louis, which has been converted to a residence by Ellis Anderson and architect Larry Jaubert.

While it is their home, the couple has a broader mission.

“My husband and I think of ourselves as stewards of this building. We look at it like it’s our watch to care of it and preserve it for future generations on the Coast,” said Anderson.

This is one of only two buildings in all of Hancock County individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is an architectural marvel. The greatest feature might be the 64 windows that invite natural light inside. “It lifts your spirit to be surrounded by all this light. Even at night, when the moon is up, moonlight comes through the windows. It’s romantic and beautiful,” Anderson said.

Read more . . .

 

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Downtown Project Uncovers Meridian History” is a WTOK piece about the uncovering of streetcar rails and brick streets during work on a 5th Street drainage project in Meridian.

The construction is going on next to where the CoFo Building once stood. When crews began digging up the street they didn’t expect to run into a part of Meridian’s past.

“We did not know they were there, but we’ve encountered them with our maintenance crews repairing water sewer situations over the years,” Community Development Senior Planner Randall Gaither says. “We’ve encountered them before, but there’s been no compelling reason to map them.”

“Meridian was the first city in the state to have streetcars. Originally, they started off of in 1870 as mule drawn trolleys,” [historian Fonda] Rush says.

Read more about Meridian’s streetcars in our reprint of Frank Brooks “Travelling by Trolley in Mississippi” series.

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Photo courtesy MDAH Historic  Resources Database. Barry White, MDAH, 3-8-2015.

Photo courtesy MDAH Historic Resources Database. Barry White, MDAH, 3-8-2015.

I always hate to read stories about a church closing, especially a congregation that occupies an old and architecturally significance building such as St. Mary’s Catholic Church in west Jackson. I had heard rumors that it might be merging with St. Therese in south Jackson, but last week’s Clarion-Ledger article confirmed it. The Gothic Revival church was built in 1955 and designed by E.L. Malvaney.

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This Clarion-Ledger article came out of the blue for me, “State may consider selling Women’s Club headquarters.” The Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs building was built in 1936 and its Georgian Revival design is by R.W. Naef of Jackson.

Photo courtesy Frank Ezelle, via Photos From Fondren, May 19, 2009.

Photo courtesy Frank Ezelle, via Photos From Fondren, May 19, 2009.

I’m a little confused by the article, since it first says that Sen. David Blount of Jackson is concerned about giving a free lease to the Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs. This is certainly a debate worth having, but then the next paragraph says Blount wants to sell the property, something I don’t think follows from the lease concern. But it’s the next paragraph that really made me sit up:

“It’s a highly valuable piece of land,” Blount said.

“Valuable piece of land” makes me think either the Dept. of Health or UMMC are behind this and that they covet the land, not the Mississippi Landmark building that sits on it.

This was an interesting exchange recounted in the article:

State Sens. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, and Will Longwitz, R-Madison, said they would like to see the state continue the relationship with the Mississippi Federation of Women’s Club because of the volunteer work the women do in the community.

Longwitz said to Blount, “I hope you will keep an open mind.”

Blount said, “There are a lot of clubs and groups who do good work, but they don’t occupy a state building for free.”

Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs was founded in 1898. It is part of the General Foundation of Women’s Clubs.

In a statement issued Friday night, the club’s state president, Darlene Adams, said:”This building is a living monument to 120 years of women’s history, progress and service in Mississippi. It is home to women volunteers who have provided millions of hours and dollars to assist the communities, institutions and people of this great State. The loss of this important landmark would be a tragedy for women volunteers and the citizens we serve throughout Mississippi.”

As you may recall, it was women’s clubs that helped save both the Old Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion way back in the nineteen-aughts, when none of us were even a glint in our grandfather’s eye. They saved those landmarks from businessmen and political leaders who felt that the buildings had passed their prime and stood on land that was too valuable. Among the accomplishments of the women’s clubs listed in Ms. Adams’ letter are the establishment of the Mississippi Forestry Commission and the Mississippi Library Commission.

For my part, I place my bets on the women in this debate.

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Krebs HouseThe Old Spanish Fort, now known as the LaPointe-Krebs House, has a new director and hopefully a new vision for being repaired since it hasn’t reopened after Katrina. According to gulflive.com:

One of Pascagoula’s own, Marks (Mc) Wixon, after earning degrees in art history and arts administration at Ole Miss and University of New Orleans, has returned home as executive director at the LaPointe-Krebs House and museum (formerly known as The Old Spanish Fort).

. . . .

Monies raised by the annual Fete La Pointe gala are helping fund museum development. A grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History is being used toward the restoration and eventual reopening of the LPK House built around 1720 and thought to be the oldest standing structure in the Mississippi Valley.

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If you’re in the mood to get out of town and go to a real live gala, the Save the Hall Ball is happening this Saturday in Natchez (“The Hall” being “Stantion Hall” of course.) Here’s the message that showed up in my inbox this week.

Message: Save the Hall Ball
March 21, 2015
9:30 pm -1:00 am
Black Tie
Dance Band
Open Bar
Pilgrimage Historical Association
To benefit Stanton Hall and Longwood
Tickets $100 per person  601-446-6631
Natchezpilgrimage.com

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Finally, take a few minutes and read this New York Times interview with architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, “On Architecture Criticism and Dangers of Demolition.” Its immediate topic is the Goshen, N.Y. government building by Paul Rudolph, considered by some a Brutalist masterpiece, but by others just another ugly building. After you read the interview, also take time to read Kimmelman’s essay calling for preservation of the 44-year-old building. Although the building apparently will not be saved, I found both of these articles helpful to my own thought process regarding Mississippi’s “difficult” and not-quite-50-year-old endangered Modernist building, the Meridian Police Station.



Categories: Bay St. Louis, Churches, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Heritage Tourism, Jackson, Meridian, Mississippi Landmarks, Natchez, Pascagoula

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